Whether you would actually have to ask permission to cross the road or not is a different matter. But in this world, if people are guaranteed the ability to walk to the shops it is described as “compulsory opening”. The easy and obvious answer to this is the fact that if you were to ask people whether or not they wanted to live in such a world, almost everybody would say ‘no’.I know that some people are worried about getting permission to cross the privatised road and I thought that it might be a good idea to do a bit of future history...
Our story starts in North East Fife. The internationally renowned hedge fund Campbell, Khatami & Windsor has bought South Street in St Andrews. And yes, you do now need a ticket to get in. You need a ticket to get out. And you even need a ticket to cross to the other side of the street. At first the money is flowing into the coffers of the street's new owners. One does notice though that most of the ticket sellers are retired Lothian Bus drivers and the cry of "exact change only" almost drowns out the screeching of the local seagulls. But, all in all, everything's ticking over nicely. There is, however, a cloud on the horizon.
Over in Dunfermline, the High Street gets purchased by Carnegie Pensions Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For old times' sake, you understand. Now, these guys are a bit more streetwise, so to speak, than their rivals over on the coast. Doing business in the newly demunicipalised town centre requires only one ticket. It covers entry, exit and road crossing. Soon, Brian Soutar is bussing shoppers over from St Andrews in their thousands and the directors of Campbell, Khatami & Windsor are drowning their sorrows in the bar of the Old Course clubhouse. Well, two of them anyway - the third is understood to be abroad, having visited the town only rarely and he may well be teetotal. The Carnegie directors have realised that it's worth forgoing a little ticket income and making up for it by getting in those extra customers. But the Carnegie organisation also faces a cloud on its horizon.
Meanwhile, backed by a consortium of Scottish bloggers, the newly floated Doctor Vee PLC has acquired the High Street in Kirkcaldy. In an industry-shaking move, Doctor Vee allows free entry onto his street because, unlike the local MP, he knows his Adam Smith. As if guided by an invisible hand, Doctor Vee understands that by forgoing the cost of any entry ticket he can more than make up for the lost revenue as the former shoppers of St Andrews and Dunfermline flock to Kirkcaldy. There's even the occasional slightly superior person coming over from Edinburgh. Soon all rival shopping centres are forced to adopt Doctor Vee's radical innovation if they are to remain in business. Such is the power of the market.
And now Doctor Vee and his backers are about to retire from the business world and devote their energies to spreading the good news about private property. Who knows, this could even be the start of a new Scottish Enlightenment.